Why Is Bondi So Worried About Softboards? – Nick Carroll

26 Jul 2018 9 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Photo by Amandalloydtait / CW Community

Photo by Amandalloydtait / CW Community

Bondi Is A Small Town

So recently there was a mass media explosion over surfing at Bondi Beach.

Not literally an explosion of course. More a week’s worth of manic headlines, think pieces, letters to the editor, the whole ten yards.

The gist of this sound and fury was a survey issued to residents by Waverley Council regarding beach and surf use. The survey listed a couple of questions about how Council should treat softboard riders at the northern and mid sections of the beach. Should buffer zones be considered to prevent softies from venturing into the flags?

As Waverley Mayor John Wakefield gingerly pointed out, it wasn’t even a proposal yet, just a survey question.

But that didn’t stop the boom.

You’d think either a) the Council was about to drive child surfers from Bondi with fire and the sword or b) there were poor innocent swimmers staggering out of the water daily, streaming blood from the awful injuries inflicted upon them by nasty softboard-riding surfer scum.

Far out, I thought, and went on to the Waverley Council’s website to see what I could see.

If you go there you’ll find the survey that helped trigger last week’s media frenzy. Originally it was due to close by now, but in the wake of the frenzy, the survey has been extended to early August. Parts of it have also been reworded, to clear up any “misinformation”, according to Council.

Reading it I got to this part:

And thought, what the hell is really going on here?

Like: check it out. Council staff have NO RECORD of first aid as a result of collisions between softboarders and swimmers between the flags. And surfers of various kinds, on average, easily outnumber any other kind of surf user, seemingly on a ratio of about 5:1.

Why is it even an issue?

Answer: lawyers.

Calls to CW’s impeccable sources revealed something yet to be reported by any of the news outlets who spent last week wigging out.

The sources reckon the whole thing can be sheeted home to a particularly fierce gent, a recently joined member of Bondi Surf Bathers, who enjoys bodysurfing and has decided he requires more of the surf zone to be cleared for his pleasure. And, you guessed it, he is a lawyer.

“We don’t get it,” one source told us. “Guys are coming in from surfing, saying, ‘Some swimmer was out there abusing me, telling me I’m in the flags when I’m not. I tried to say to him, “Look mate, I’ve been surfing here for 30 years,” but he wouldn’t listen.’”

Attempts have been made by various parties to bring the warring parties together, but no luck yet.

No wonder the Council has been treading a very fine line through the media carnage.

You’ve gotta feel for the Bondi crew in all this, but I wonder if a few of ’em, especially those who’ve been around a bit longer than the lawyer, might be chuckling into their beers. Bondi has some big lifestyle tags hung on it. Fame! Wealth! Good-looking vets! That’s really why the media thing blew up – not so much the issue, but the fact that it’s Bondi.

But in a lot of ways, with its crusty old-timers, its blow-ins, and its little territory wars, it’s really still just a small town. And we bet this ends in a very small-town way.


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